CCC achieves notable firsts along the Vitality Pathway

Workshops wrap with One, launch of Strategic Ministry Planning Team

By Mary M. Rall
Community Covenant Church

John Wenrich

Evangelical Covenant Church Congregational Vitality Director John Wenrich leads the One workshop April 11 at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River. The workshop was the last of three the congregation attended as part of their walk along the Vitality Pathway. (Photo by Mary M. Rall/Community Covenant Church)

EAGLE RIVER, Alaska – Community Covenant Church isn’t the first to walk along the Vitality Pathway, but the congregation’s involvement in its workshops and the PULSE assessment have set it apart from all previously participating churches.

John Wenrich, the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Congregational Vitality director, said CCC is the first church in his nine years of teaching Congregational Vitality to have almost 40 percent of its regularly attending parishioners participate in the PULSE assessment, adding average participation is about 10 percent.

CCC had 199 people participate in the assessment, which gathered feedback on how those 12 and older perceived the church is doing on implementing the 10 Healthy Missional Markers, said Vitality Team Facilitator Debbie Bogart. The results of the assessment are being compiled by the ECC and will be provided to CCC in the upcoming weeks.

Wenrich said the church also stood out in the manner in which high schooler Nathaniel Swanberg participated in the Congregational Vitality process, as he’s the only teenager to ever attend all three local Vitality workshops.

“I want to know what’s going on,” Swanberg said of his workshop attendance, which included Veritas, EPIC and One. “I know what’s going on, so I can help with it and be involved with it instead of just seeing what’s going on.”

John Wenrich and Nathaniel Swanberg

Evangelical Covenant Church Congregational Vitality Director John Wenrich shares a moment with high schooler Nathaniel Swanberg during a break at the One workshop April 11 at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River. Swanberg is the only teenager to ever attend all three local workshops in the nine years Covenant churches have been walking the path toward Congregational Vitality. (Photo by Mary M. Rall/Community Covenant Church)

About 38 people attended the One workshop April 11 at CCC, which focused on unifying the congregation with one plan, as one people and with one language as the Strategic Ministry Planning Team prepares to discern how the Holy Spirit will help them interpret the results of the information gathered by the Internal and External assessment teams and the PULSE assessment.

“There’s something very endearing to the heart of God. He loves it when His people are one,” Wenrich said. “That brings a lot of glory to God when a church is united around a common language and a common plan.”

Lead Pastor Todd Michero said the selection of the team was determined following several months of independent prayer by himself, Bogart and Worship Arts Pastor Tyler Shaw to determine who God would have serve on the team.

“It was amazing – the unity – how the same names came forth,” Michero said. “Every single person who God spoke to us in unity about said ‘yes.’”

The Strategic Ministry Planning Team will be comprised of Michero, Kevin Halvorsen, Dave Wille, Denise Smith, Stephanie Stockhouse, Cary Moore and Prayer and Missions Pastor Erika Whittington, Michero said.

Denise Smith of Eagle River said she committed to participating, because she trusted what God communicated to those who prayed about who should serve on the team.

“I trusted that the Spirit worked through them, so I said ‘yes,’” Smith said. “Saying ‘no’ to them would have been saying ‘no’ to the Spirit.’”

Wenrich has been CCC’s main resource for understanding the Vitality Pathway, but he admits he doesn’t know what the SMPT will encounter over the next couple of months.

“The answers are in the conversations you’ll have as the Holy Spirit works and guides,” Wenrich said, adding that having a Strategic Ministry Plan is biblical and is exemplified in God’s perfect plan for creation, which includes the sacrifice of Christ for our sins, His return and the eternal salvation of His people becoming a reality.

Although One was the last workshop Wenrich will lead at CCC, he said Covenant churches in Fairbanks, Nome and the state village communities will soon begin their own walks along the Vitality Pathway.

Bogart has volunteered to help the Nome and Fairbanks churches facilitate their journey toward Congregational Vitality, Wenrich said, and Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska Associate Regional Field Director James Barefoot will be working with the village churches.

“The Vitality movement is literally moving throughout the state,” Michero said. “We’re on the forefront, and I’m just excited about that.”

More information on Congregational Vitality and the 10 Healthy Missional Markers on our Congregational Vitality webpage.